Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Calif. Prisons Drop Worker Safety Checks


California prisons quietly halted what was supposed to be a sweeping review of employee safety spurred by a guard's stabbing death last year, officials said in response to a records request from The Associated Press. Just seven of the expected 41 evaluations were completed before the first-in-the-nation program was abruptly ended after Corrections Secretary Roderick Hickman resigned in frustration in February, officials said after months of inquiries.

The disclosure came in the past week as the prison system's new administration counters criticism from state lawmakers and federal judges who have complained that inmates often live in crowded and poorly staffed prisons and receive inadequate care.

Like the portion of an iceberg that is underwater, issues like this are often not thought about when politicians or groups of citizens push for tighter control of offenders or longer sentences. Problems like this aren't intential, they just come down to money.

Many of us are more willing to vote to lock people away than we are to pay higher taxes for doing just that. And that means corners will have to be cut.

With the passage of Proposition 83 which is being challenged in court, this problem may become more severe before it gets better.

The best solutions will come from taking and valuing the experiences and insights of all of those involved or impacted by the criminal justice system -- including criminals. Some of the most effective programs may on the surface look soft on crime for two reasons. One, because a large part of their mission is to help criminals, and two, on the surface they sound similar to ineffective programs.

A huge part of any solution to crime must be prevention if we want to reduce the number of victims and perpetrators. And that means letting go of the myth that criminals are born. Criminals are made by a combination of environment and individual choices.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post


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